September 2019: Go West (and East)

A bull elk chases a female in front of Yellowstone's Roosevelt Gate at sunset

September flew. I can’t believe I ever thought I was going to maintain weekly updates—monthly ones are clearly all I can keep up with these days!

Turning 38

Potato with a sticker of baby Lauren's face on it, next to a sticker that reads Potato Parcel and a card.
My sister sent me a potato parcel…yep, that’s baby me on a potato.

I turned 38 at the beginning of the month! Once that would have felt old, but I’ll take all the birthdays I can get in this life. My celebrations are pretty chilled out; all I really wanted to do was go out for a nice dinner, so that’s what we did. We ate at Bramble & Hare, a farm-to-table restaurant in Boulder. On paper my meal doesn’t sound exciting — salad, salmon, and chocolate raspberry mousse — but it was terrific. I’ll definitely be back.

Jared got me a pair of boots for my birthday, which meant that I picked them out (this is an ideal scenario, trust me). After much deliberation, as always, I went with this pair in dark brown from Kamik, and I love them.

My sister Megan sent me a potato parcel to celebrate, which is just as random as it sounds; a few days later I also got a beautiful Fifty-Nine Parks print of Rocky Mountain National Park from my sisters and brothers-in-law. It’s so nice to be in one place and hang art on the walls!

Fincon: Washington, D.C.

The Washington Monument at sunset, as seen from the Mall.

The day after my birthday I flew to Washington, D.C. for Fincon, a conference for people in the finance industry. 2500 finance professionals (and me) swarmed the Adams-Morgan Hilton to talk all things money. I met points hackers, FIRE advocates (Financial Independence, Retire Early), coupon clippers, and even had my face printed on a macaron, which I ate immediately. (Delicious)

A tray of about 25 macarons, all with people's faces printed on them.
Theme of the month: my face on food.

The highlight of the conference wasn’t my face on a cookie, but the ‘yappy hour’ we put on as sponsors with the help of Guiding Eyes for the Blind— an organization that trains guide dogs. The puppies need socialization as part of their training, so they came along for an hour to mingle with guests. It was just as cute as it sounds.

An adorable 10-month-old yellow lab puppy sits patiently in a conference room. He is wearing a neckerchief that says Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
If your party doesn’t have puppies, I don’t want to go.

And while I’m on the topic, I highly recommend the documentary ‘Pick of the Litter,’ which follows five puppies through their training to become guide dogs. I’ve watched it twice now and enjoyed it equally both times.

After the conference I got to spend the weekend with my parents, who are based in Washington D.C. Bonus!

TBEX in Billings, Montana

Lauren takes a selfie with a fake bear in a Billings, Montana museum.
The only safe way to take a selfie in Montana.

With a one-day turnaround back home in Colorado, I hopped on another flight to Billings, Montana, for the travel industry conference TBEX. The trip was for work, but of course a focus on travel is right up my alley. I loved meeting travel bloggers I’ve been reading for years, and being around hundreds of people who get just as jazzed about travel as I do.

I’ve got a few posts in the pipeline about Billings and Yellowstone, so I won’t go into too much detail except to say that the food in Montana really caught me off guard. I ate so well, I’m still thinking about it. Highlights included a juicy burger and s’mores milkshake at Burger Dive, a 3-course chef’s meal at Walkers, and a basil vinaigrette dressing in Gardiner.

Jared flew out on Friday night and we hit the Beartooth Scenic Highway early Saturday morning en route to Yellowstone. I was worried that two days wouldn’t be enough, but it worked out better than I expected. More on this to come!

Lauren takes a selfie with a fake bison in a gift shop in Yellowstone National Park.
Secondary theme of the month: Belfies.

Lowlights: our Sunday night flight out of Billings got delayed by nearly 5 hours, so we didn’t get back to Denver until after midnight. But the Denver to Billings passengers had it much worse — their plane took off and turned around twice before the third attempt, when they finally made it to Montana.


5 years married

Lauren and Jared smile, wearing coats and sunglasses in front of a wooden sign that says Old Faithful Geyser.
The five year anniversary gift is wood, so here’s a pic of us in the woods.

*Rubs eyes in disbelief*

Five years ago, we were in Hawaii getting married. It seems like a long time ago but also like it was yesterday. Jared and I met in Belgium in 2008, when I was living in London and he was backpacking (read our full travel love story here). Since then we’ve lived in four countries and traveled to many more. We may not always see eye to eye on salad spinners (a true kitchen essential), but when it comes to the stuff that matters we’re still on the same page.

Coming Up in October

We have a niece on the way! We won’t make it to Australia until February, but I’m so excited to meet her.

I’ll also be heading to Austin two weeks in a row. First, for a work event, and second, for my sister’s birthday. We’ll be Painting With a Twist — my sister Kate is an art instructor there and booked a private party. The theme is paint your pet, so of course I’ll be creating a Lulu masterpiece. We’re also going to check out a performance of Mortified the weekend before, which I am really looking forward to.

Other than that, my main plans are to drink up every last bit of apple cider until it disappears from the shelves.

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